ATVers seek a bigger piece of the gas tax

By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News Staff

How the gas tax money the state gives to the ATV, snowmobiling and boating communities toward upkeep of trails and boat facilities is distributed is the same proportions as it was in 2001, even though participation in the three motor sports has changed.

ATV Maine President John Raymond, various ATV clubs and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife aim to change that, beginning with a new study to look at how much each sector brings to the state’s economy if LD 977 is passed this session. 

A work session for LD 977, “Resolve to Study the Gasoline Tax Allocations for Nonhighway Recreational Vehicles and Make Recommendations for Changes,” was scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 24 in Room 206 of the Cross Building in Augusta before the Legislature’s Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

A similar study was done in 2001 by the University of Maine Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy for a Legislature commission charged with figuring out what an equitable distribution of gas tax revenues would be to support off-road vehicle use.

The current distribution of those funds is still based on the 2001 study, but the number of ATV users has doubled since then and there are more four-stroke snowmobiles on the trails than 20 years ago, MDIF&W Deputy Commissioner Tim Peabody testified last April before the committee.

There also have been other changes in use and technology of boats, ATVs and snowmobiles, he said then.

If the distribution is reproportioned, the ATV community could get another $800,000 toward its trail maintenance, Raymond said recently.

The 2001 proportions were: 

  • Motorboats — 2 percent of total excise tax not to exceed $2 million with 20 percent to Marine Resources and 80 percent to the Boating Facilities Fund of what’s left after refunds to commercial motorboats, amounting to $1.5 million for boating facilities.
  • Snowmobiles — 0.67 percent of total excise tax, with 0.05 percent to MDIF&W and 0.62 percent to the Snowmobile Trail Fund, amounting to a little more than $1 million.
  • ATVs — 0.045 percent of total excise tax to the ATV Recreational Management Fund, amounting to $67,500.

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